Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chosen & Special Adoptee

I've been checking out a new adoptee blog - iBastard. (Nice to see another male adoptee here in Blogland.)

Today he wrote about that oh-so-wonderful adoption term Chosen. (please take the time to pop over and have a read...)

I was told I was adopted from as early as I can remember.
My adoption story was told and retold - and the terms 'Chosen' and 'Special' were always spread thickly through the dialogue.

I was told that my a-parents were offered a baby boy just weeks before I was born - before I was 'available'.
But no - they chose to wait and adopt me.

I was constantly told how special I was - because of those choices - just to make the story sound as if it were all 'so meant to be'.
Sadly many not even in our family threw the terms around freely - adding even greater weight to the mounting pressure.

From my adolescent years on - these terms started to grate on very being.
Somethings were just not adding up.
Putting together the facts that lay before me proved to be a very confusing puzzle indeed.

If I was so special - why did my real mother give me up to another???
Surely - I must have been somewhat defective - and these adopting people have taken pity on me.
I better learn quickly how to be grateful for them taking me in.

If I was chosen - what would my a-parents think if I messed up??
They've chosen me - over another - if not many others - they may want to send me back - or ask for a refund if I do the wrong thing.
Surely my failures must be a huge disappointment to these people.

I'm sure I was very cute - blonde hair & blue eyed - as a baby..............would they still think I was adorable when I grew and started to form opinions of my own???
I had better keep smiling that adoptee smile - wearing the adoptee mask - making people happy - making people like me.
The pressure was great to conform - and when I did step out of line - I was told that I caused my a-mother a great deal of torment and distress.

Even simple questions about my birth mother - caused my mother stress.

What a weight - what a burden - for a young child to bare.
A weight that only seemed to grow heavier and heavier as the years rolled on.
A weight that was placed there - simply because it made my a-mother happier with her own ideas and choices.

I guess it is made harder when, as a child, I would have asked questions of my a-parents.
I know my children ask me about how they grew in my tummy.
When and where they were born.
Bits and pieces - the story about the start to their lives.

My a-mother didn't know that story - so she could only relate the only story of 'me' that she could - my ADOPTION story. As if I only started to exist from that day on.
In those days (the deep dark 60's) that is what they were TOLD to tell the young adoptee.
A story that was MEANT to fill the void of emptiness they may have.

Well - it didn't.

And it is something that should NOT be thrown around in conversations to your adoptive children to this day.

iBastard's post was in response to a blog entry he had seen from a prospective adoptive parent waiting to pick up their adoptee from overseas.
A comment which said that all adoptees want to hear that they are chosen above all the others.

I am here to tell you - that they do not.

I certainly held that 'chosen/special' burden for way too long, and MANY of my adoptee friends have had a boat load of grief over those very words.

Do NOT burden your adoptee with these terms.

Sure - early on - the child may wish to hear their story over and over again.
Small children do.
But please be careful about the way you portray their story to them - and be very careful of the words that you use.
Your words could one day cut them to the core, and could effect them for the rest of their days.

Try you hardest to find out your child's story from the very beginning of their living days.
Your adoptee was a real and wonderful person before you came into their lives.
Do not dismiss the parts of the adoptee which truly form part of their whole being.

Your adoptee will likely have major abandonment issues - ones that you have NO control over.
It's the nature of adoption/relinquishment.
Labeling them with terms that appear to be all happy-happy at a young age - may later set the adoptee up with a lot of baggage to carry around.

I am still - to this day - racked with guilt about being happy that I have found my bio-sister - and that I am activity seeking the rest of my bio-family.
As if by wishing for that side of me - the part that I was not allowed to know - is betraying the very people that CHOSE me above another - something that I should be grateful for - until my dying days.

Do you really want to lay that much guilt onto your child??

I was special.
I was chosen.
I better do EXACTLY what my a-parents want me to do - or maybe they will no longer love the person they so wanted me to be.

Because really - that's what most parents want.
They want their children to be a certain way.
Both bio and adoptive parents are very guilty of this affliction.

But adding those pressures to an adoptee that has already suffered adoption trauma from such a young age - is a little unfair - I think.

My a-mum died when I was 18. We were never able to share an adult relationship together.
We were never able to discuss these issues - issues that I wish I could share with her to this day.
She did what she did - with the information that was given to her.
She knew no other adoptees.
She told me what the health-care professionals told her to say.
I love her dearly, and miss her every day.
I share these things here so that others don't fall and make the same mistakes she made.
You owe it to the little people that have - for whatever reason - come into your life.
Love them for who they are.
Let them be - whatever it is that they want to be.
Let them love all the people that they care for - freely - and without judgment.
Be open. Be honest. And love them with all that you have inside.


Blogger Erin said...


I correct ANYBODY who dares call my daughter Chosen. My mom got her a book called "my chosen child" That didn't go over well in our house.

We didn't choose the bee, we chose to adopt. Because of the situation surrounding her mom and her birth, we did choose to adopt her, but she was far from chosen KWIM?

I don't like the chosen thought because it sounds like we went down to the local convent and looked at all the babies lined up and picked the prettiest one.

21/6/07, 11:31 pm  
Blogger Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

What I find historically interesting is in 'The Adopted Family' circa 1965, they made mention there that the term chosen could be harmful, misleading and frightening. Yet here some are 42 years later still spouting it.

22/6/07, 1:42 am  
Blogger iBastard said...

I'm glad my a-parents never spouted this "chosen child" crap. They were up front that they got me because they were next in line when I was handed off. And I've always been okay with that.

What really blows my mind is the way people have to be walked through this.

Anyhow, thanks for the link, I'm glad you enjoyed my rant!

22/6/07, 3:59 am  
Blogger elizabeth said...

I was never told that I was chosen. Ick. I guess my adopters did something right.

22/6/07, 10:44 am  
Blogger Erika said...

wow thanks for posting this possum.

my mom's adoptive mother died when she was 18 too. she was given a similar story about being chosen and special. and it did nothing to address the feelings and experiences you have written here.

i have days where i hope my daughter growing up adopted isnt going thru these feelings - i guess only time will tell.

24/6/07, 2:01 am  
Blogger Kuin said...

Hey possum...I have a lot of catching up to do in reading your blog...I have gone through some blog changes...I am glad you came by and said bye you can find me now AT .....

25/6/07, 1:49 am  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Amen Poss...and those same words should be taken to heart by all parents in my opinion. Unconditional love is not just words but action...and it is for life.

25/6/07, 2:21 am  
Anonymous Paula O. said...

Beautiful post, Poss.

You describe the pressures so vividly - ones that I can definitely identify with - and ones that still remain present even now as an adult.

I'm so sorry, Poss that you lost your adoptive mother at such a young, tender age.

Sending out big hugs to you, my friend.

26/6/07, 9:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Poss,

How are you?


28/6/07, 8:47 am  
Blogger Lainey-Paney said...

As a social worker...I often see the other side of adoption.

I see the 14 year old girl who got pregnant as she was molested by her mother's boyfriend of the week.
I think about that child growing up and searching...and finding out that their biological father was a child molester. I think about them dealing with that...

I see the 37 year old woman who is addicted to crack and says "I don't care about that kid." The same woman who was "too busy" to abort the pregnancy, but too strung out to quit using during her pregnancy.
And I think of that child...growing up, and searching for this woman who told us all that SHE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOU.
I think of that child dealing with that reality---the reality that she truly didn't care about you, and the underlying issue that she didn't really care about herself.

So sometimes...I think that the "not-knowing" has to be sooooo painful. But I think about the harsh realities of some of the situations that I've seen...and it's seriously a scary scale: which is the more painful? The not knowing, or the painful reality. If you found at the truth...and it was least then the search would be over... but then you have a harsh reality to face.

I dunno....
all very emotional & complicated to me...

29/6/07, 1:23 am  
Anonymous wraiths said...

Oooooh Chosen. Have youe ver read the book Chosen baby or something like that? it's where we got the name for Chosen Babies, sort of a way to poke fun at the concept while taking it back..

Then again, my adoption announcement has this little phrase:

I wasn't expected, I was selected.

29/6/07, 1:32 am  
Blogger Possum said...

Erin - yeah - I agree - ewwww is right.

Theresa - 'chosen' IS harmful - pity the poor people who JUST CAN'T GET THAT.

iBastard - yes - the walking bit drives me nuts at times. And I ALWAYS enjoy a good rant!!

Liz - woo hoo - a tick in the box for you gorgeous girl!!!

Erika - I hope also that your daughter isn't getting fed the same old baloney. *sigh*

Kuin - thanks for popping in - I'm just glad I found you again!!

Leroy - YES - unconditional love is the key. AMEN to that.

Paula - you inspire me every time you click away at your keyboard. Thankyou for your kind words.

MissG - I'm very well gorgeous girl. Thanks for popping in!!

30/6/07, 12:28 am  
Blogger Possum said...

Lainey-Painey - hmmmm - I had to leave your comment alone for awhile - as it bugged me somehow. I don't know exactly why - perhaps because you're reacting to my words from your own view of the adoption world - which sounds painful to say the least - BUT - you're not trying to see it from the adoptees point of view. JMHO. Yep - sure - some adoptees have some horror stories linked to their conception and subsequent relinquishment - but - it's THEIR story - and I think it's a lot better to know the truth - than to be fed a pack of lies your entire life.
I have a new friend - age 46 - who only just 4 months ago found out that she is adopted. THAT - is a whole heap of messing with your head-space RIGHT there.
For me - I ran scenarios through my head a MILLION times - both good and very very bad - like - was my mother raped at a young age - in an attempt to prepare myself for every possible outcome.
Life is all about harsh realities.
If the adoptees that you speak of have adoptive parents that love them UNCONDITIONALLY - they will survive their truth - and come out stronger people for the experience.
Again JMHO - from an adoptee that lives this stuff every day of my life.

Wraith - 'I wasn't expected, I was selected' - NICE!!!??!! ICK.
Very nice of you to drop on by - thankyou.

30/6/07, 12:35 am  
Blogger Lainey-Paney said...

Oh, I wasn't trying to say that people shouldn't seek the truth.

And, I can only speak from my point of view & personal experiences...

My whole point is that it's got to be painful for some both ways...the pain of not knowing, or the pain of finding out the truth if the truth is painful.
Does that make sense???

Kind of an...up in the air: which would be worse--kind of thing.

aside: as a brand new little social work intern, I remember the very first adoption that I worked.
I remember my whole life having a positive outlook about it was all smiles & wonderful...these childless couples get a baby...isnt that grand?
But then...when I worked my first adoption, and I saw a woman who was broken...I helped her through the process of giving up her baby, and she went home from the hospital.

The baby didn't get to leave for a few days, so every day I went to the nursery & rocked her.
I remember thinking: you will never know that I held you, fed you, and rocked you. You will never know that I met your mother. You will spend your whole life wondering what this situation was like...and wondering about her.

I just remember being so sad for that baby...

Anyway...I wasn't trying to say that all adoptees should call off the search. I guess I was just rambling about how it's got to be tough not-knowing, and then sometimes tough knowing...

30/6/07, 1:12 am  
Blogger MissG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

30/6/07, 10:19 am  
Blogger Searching for answers said...

I do not like the word chosen in regards to the children I adopted. I do tell my children they are special to me because they are. I am blessed to be their mother. My eldest is processing alot of her abandonent issues and what is interesting is how so much of her grief and pain are tied up in those two words. She feels angry that her birthmother didn't 'choose to raise her' and that she wasn't 'special enough.' Of course in reality we both know that her birthmother didn't even have a choice given her economic situation and it had nothing to do with my daughter being special enough. But it is how my daughter feels and she wants me to validate her feelings while at the same time help her find her inherent value in this world, in our family. A friend of mine just bought me the "Chosen Child" book which I can't believe in this day and age was just recently written given all of the adoption education available to adoptive parents today. But anyway my friend thought I might want to read it with my daughter. Thankfully I received the book when my daughter wasn't here and I was able to just put it away. I would never read that book to her. She would hate it. It would bring up all the losses she feels that she missed out on not being raised by her birthmom. That book is just insensitive to say the least. Thanks for a thought provoking post. Chrsistine

30/6/07, 1:05 pm  
Blogger Andie D. said...

It's funny, I just wrote about my adoption story and how my arents never used words like "chosen". I did know other adoptees, and we compared notes.

As a kid I felt somehow defective that they didn't try to make me feel special.

As an adult, I can see how that could screw you up.

30/6/07, 10:41 pm  
Blogger Julie said...

I was one of those who was told I was "chosen." Another problem with that is realizing that, since a baby can't speak or reveal his or her personality at the time of the "choosing," we can only deduce that the choice was made based on our appearance. In my day, it was important for the child to look like his/her adoptive family. Now, I suspect it would be based more on general attractiveness. Imagine the guilt if you didn't grow up to be beautiful.

1/7/07, 7:46 pm  
Blogger Possum said...

Lainey-Paney - thanks for the clarification. I get what you're saying.

Christine - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

Andie - that is weird. Damned if you do - damned if you don't. Kind of. I think that if you were shown unconditional love - no such words would have been needed. KWIM??
I think you're special - just for you - and I'm glad you're blogging about it and finding your voice. xx

Julie - funny you mention the possible guilt for not growing up attractive - as I always felt a little bit of a freak and unhappy with my appearance - as I never had another to mirror with - so never felt 'right'. I felt I could never do right - or live up to the grand expectations that my adoption was built up to be. Sad really.

Poss. xx

4/7/07, 11:28 pm  

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